3 Legs of Enlightenment

December 30th, 2007

My wife, Bella, and I had an interesting conversation on the trip back from visiting my parents for the holidays. We were discussing the different components of one’s journey to enlightenment. I thought I’d share the results of the conversation.

There are three parts involved in the journey, our mind, heart and spirit. All three must develop in order for us to advance. Enlightenment is a three-legged stool. One leg is the mind, the second is the heart and the third is the spirit or soul. When we are born, we are intellectually ignorant and emotionally immature.

Our past lives help with this life’s development because we remember things from them. We slowly remember knowledge previously learned. This commonly manifests in knowledge areas in which we are naturally gifted. Emotional maturity we developed will grow quickly within us, as our heart remembers.

Our spirit is different. It is our connection to our eternal higher self, so it does not forget what it learns from lifetime to lifetime. This is why young children, who are ignorant of the world and emotionally immature sometimes understand many spiritual truths remarkably well. It is because they learned them in past lives and never forgot.

We grow in each leg during each of our lifetimes. The ideal way to do this is with each in equal measure, so the stool remains in balance.

Unfortunately, our current society focuses heavily on cultivating the mind, at the expense of the heart and the soul. As a result, many people graduate to be intellectually smart, but unable to understand or control their emotions. This results in the power trips, rages, and cold-heartedness that is so prevalent. It also hurts people’s ability to bond with another in loving relationships, leading to extreme loneliness, depression, divorce and suicide. These problems do not lead one to see this as a healthy society, or most people as being emotionally healthy.

Our culture also neglects spiritual development and the soul. We are taught to look outside of us to material wealth or power over others for fulfillment. To be rich and powerful is considered the highest goal of any person. When right and wrong are taught to children, they see that the words spoken frequently do not match the actions done by adults in the kids’ lives. This isn’t due to parental malevolence, but instead, the parents are spiritually undeveloped as well. They remember what they learned from previous lives, but the do not learn more and advance. So our children don’t advance in this either.

We need to work toward balancing the three legs of the stool to progress to enlightenment. We need to study and develop our mind. We need to work through our emotional problems and grow past them, rather than allow ourselves to be an eternal victim of whatever wrongs have happened to us. We need to learn compassion for others to further develop our maturity.

And we need to look to our spiritual paths and develop our soul. Different people may have different paths and traditions, but each manifests in a specific way for each soul to grow. We just need to allow our path to take us to where we need to grow.

When all three legs of the journey to enlightenment grow and strengthen together and in alignment with one another, we will develop in a way that makes us happy, fulfilled, and eventually, enlightened.

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